After a 500-day suspension, Norwegian Cruise Line has finally restarted operations. Norwegian Jade set sail from the Greek port of Piraeus (Athens) late Sunday evening, marking the official return of the cruise operator. The ship is also the first in the fleet to homeport in Athens.
Norwegian Cruise Line has been steadily building towards the restart of operations and is the last of the major cruise companies to start sailing. With stringent measures like a 100% vaccination rate onboard its ships for both crew and guests.
Norwegian Cruise Line is Back!
After the vessel returned from a special friend and family sailing around the Greek Isles, NCL CEO and President Harry Sommer said he, nor anyone else, expected the return of cruising for Norwegian Cruise Line to take this long. The departure from Piraeus marks the return for NCL, the last of the major cruise lines to commence sailings.
“Welcoming our guests and crew on board has been one of the most memorable moments of my over 30-year career,” said Harry Sommer, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line. “We are excited to embark on the Great Cruise Comeback with a brand-new itinerary and homeport for our brand, offering our guests an even greater selection of unique vacations at sea.”
Norwegian Jade will be sailing around the Greek Islands on 7-day itineraries visiting iconic Greek ports like Iraklion, Rhodes, Mykonos, and Katakolon, and more. Although the cruise line has extensive safety measures, the vessel will be sailing at a limited capacity.
For its first outing from Piraeus onboard Norwegian Jade, which sailed July 25, only 1,800 passengers were on board, representing around 75% of the vessel’s capacity. The vessel has a maximum capacity of 2,402 passengers at double occupancy and weighs 93,558 tons.
Greek Minister of Tourism Harry Theoharis added, “We are overjoyed to welcome Norwegian Jade and her guests to Greece. The planned itineraries will offer unique experiences that combine our rich history, bustling culture and famous gastronomy.”
Managing COVID Onboard
Norwegian Cruise Line remains confident that it will be able to prevent any outbreaks onboard its ships. At the same time, any occurrences of COVID onboard will be managed by the ship’s personnel. Extensive safety measures include pre-cruise testing, a negative PCR-test upon arrival, onboard testing, and a fully vaccinated contingency of passengers and crew on board
In contrast to Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line will not require guests to purchase an additional insurance package. This COVID-insurance that the competition has required from guests from August onwards is in place to pay for any additional quarantine or hospital costs that may arise from infection.
Instead, Norwegian Cruise Line has said they will be paying for all guests’ hotel and medical costs, regardless of their insurance. Company President and CEO Harry Sommer says NCL is doing this to instill confidence in guests to be open about being unwell onboard instead of worrying about medical costs and bills.
What is next for Norwegian Cruise Line?
Norwegian Cruise Line is working hard on its restart plans, which you can also follow on the cruise line’s web series “Embark,” where the cruise line shows what it takes for ships to start sailing once again. The ships currently scheduled to resume operations are:
- Norwegian Encore will start on August 7 with her cruises in Alaska
- Norwegian Gem will be the first Norwegian Cruise Line ship to operate from Florida, although the cruise line is still involved in a legal dispute over vaccine mandates. Norwegian Gem’s first cruise from Miami will sail on August 15.
- Norwegian Epic will be operating in the Mediterranean from September onwards. Epic will sail from Barcelona on September 5.
- Norwegian Getaway will sail from Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest homeport of Katakolon, Greece, on September 17.